US: How to watch 2024 Solar Eclipse; will Texas county emergency impact viewing? - Hindustan Times
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Total Solar Eclipse 2024: How to watch rare event in US and will Texas county emergency impact viewing?

ByShweta Kukreti
Feb 28, 2024 05:21 PM IST

According to NASA, the solar eclipse will start over the South Pacific Ocean and then it will cross North America, passing over Mexico, the US, and Canada.

Millions of people will have an opportunity to witness a total solar eclipse that will pass over North America on April 8, bringing back August 2017 memories when nearly 215 million Americans viewed the solar eclipse, either directly or electronically.

Millions of people will have an opportunity to witness a total solar eclipse that will pass over North America on April 8,(AP)
Millions of people will have an opportunity to witness a total solar eclipse that will pass over North America on April 8,(AP)

In the United States, weather permitting, sky watchers in 15 states will be able watch the moon completely covering the sun, spreading its shadow over the flaming orb forming the illusion of a ring in the sky.

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According to NASA, the solar eclipse will start over the South Pacific Ocean and then it will cross North America, passing over Mexico, the US, and Canada.

This total solar eclipse is part of a recurring series of eclipses that last struck North America in 1970 and will return in 2078.

Also Read: Total Solar Eclipse 2024: Best US state to watch the rare celestial event

Texas county announces state of emergency ahead of eclipse

Meanwhile, officials in Bell County, Texas, have declared a state of emergency ahead of the total solar eclipse. The decision has been taken as the county is situated in what is known as the path of totality, expecting the influx of eclipse viewers in the area. It may lead to traffic congestion, food and shortages and cellular network congestion.

According to the most recent census, Bell County has a year-round population that's slightly less than 400,000, but that figure might rise to nearly a million by April 8, the day of the much-anticipated event.

"Projections are for this influx of people to begin occurring as early as several days before April 8th, with an outmigration occurring in the few hours immediately following the eclipse this year," Bell County Judge David Blackburn said in a press conference as per Fox Weather. “If these numbers manifest themselves, the strain that this will put on our infrastructure will be significant. Everything from our first responders, to our health care systems, to our fueling stations, to our highways, to our emergency management stations and more. All of these could be severely strained by the influx of people.”

In a statement, the officials said property owners who intend to organise events with more than 50 participants are required to register with the county to ensure proper "life safety and critical infrastructure" is in place.

"Registering information will provide public safety officials and first responders with important information that will aid them during this period when roads and highways may be stressed, and responders may be impeded by population conditions," according to the press release.

What is solar eclipse and who will be able to witness it?

Solar eclipses represent the fundamental cosmic confluences that take place when the sun, moon, and Earth align. The moon moves in front of the sun, temporarily limiting its light.

The moon can completely cover the sun, as in total solar eclipses, or it may obscure only a portion of its light, as in partial solar eclipses.

The experts called the forthcoming total solar eclipse unique since it will pass across more populated parts of the continental United States as compared to previous total solar eclipses.

After crossing Mexico, the eclipse will pass through Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. If circumstances are clear, people residing in Michigan and Tennessee will be able to see it. The eclipse will travel over southern Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward.

“The eclipse will exit continental North America on the Atlantic coast of Newfoundland, Canada, at 5:16 p.m. NDT,” NASA said.

A partial solar eclipse will be visible in 48 states of the continental US.

NASA with support of other organisations intends to webcast live views of the total solar eclipse online.

When to watch total solar eclipse?

The timing and duration of totality may vary based on location, however certain areas will be enveloped by darkness with the moon entirely covering the sun for up to 4 minutes and 28 seconds.

NASA has published a list of timings for certain populated locations along the path of totality.

This table provides the time that totality begins in some U.S. cities in the path of totality. These areas will also experience a partial eclipse before and after these times.(NASA)
This table provides the time that totality begins in some U.S. cities in the path of totality. These areas will also experience a partial eclipse before and after these times.(NASA)

How to watch total solar eclipse?

People are advised to never look directly at the sun during a solar eclipse, even whether it is partially or completely obscured by the moon. One must wear special eclipse glasses or use pinhole projectors to see solar eclipse.

One has to make sure that their binoculars, telescopes, or camera lenses are equipped with solar filters. However, avoid using eclipse glasses with them. According to NASA, failure to take adequate safeguards will result in serious eye injury.

NASA is financing various research programs for the 2024 total eclipse, which build on previous studies from 2017. The programs, led by experts from several academic institutions, will use an array of technologies to investigate the Sun and its impact on Earth, such as cameras on high-altitude research planes and ham radios.

Watch: A tour of NASA’s 2024 Solar Eclipse Map

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